Luke Hankins

Special Feature: Stella Vinitchi Radulescu

Translations from the French

Translator’s Note

Stella Vinitchi Radulescu was born in Romania and left the country
permanently in 1983, at the height of Ceausescu’s communist
regime. After seeking political asylum in Rome, she immigrated to
the U.S. She received an M.A. in French from the University of
Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. in Philology from the University of
Bucharest. She has taught French, first at Loyola University, then at
Northwestern, since 1989.

Radulescu began writing poetry in Romanian at an early age, and
published several collections in Romania. As she puts it, “Writing poetry
was risky — it could have been ‘a political manifesto’ against the
regime! — but it was also a refuge.” She faced a crisis of sorts
when she left Romania because she was uncertain how to continue
writing in a new language. However, she discovered that she could
write in English and enjoyed discovering other dimensions of
expression through writing in a new language. She attributes part
of her success in this area to her study of philology. She also began
to write in French, which was always “la langue de la poésie” for
her. She points to the fact that Samuel Beckett wanted to write
deliberately in French, and she asserts that “there is always something
mysterious about the language.”

For Radulescu, it is difficult to translate her own poems. As she
puts it, “I feel, think, act, perceive, smell, touch differently according
to the language I write in.” She has been kind enough to allow
me to begin translating her French poetry, and I gratefully
acknowledge her partnership in finalizing the translations which
appear here. These four poems are from her collection, Un cri dans
la neige [A Cry in the Snow], which was awarded the Grand Prix
de Poésie “Henri-Nöel Villard” and published by Éditions du
Cygne (Paris) in 2009.

The Poems:
landscape in three movements
sometimes in the evening

A Review of Two Books by Stella Vinitchi Radulescu:
A Second Experience